Disney legend Richard Sherman to receive honorary degree at Redlands musical showcase

January 13, 2016

We all know, hum and sing the music of the Sherman brothers—songs from such Disney movie classics as "Mary Poppins," "The Jungle Book," "The Aristocats," "Winnie the Pooh," and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" that have become the soundtrack of a generation.

To honor the influence, inspiration and creative genius of this music, the University of Redlands will confer upon Richard Sherman the honorary degree of Doctor of Music during a showcase of his work at 7:30 p.m. January 16 in Memorial Chapel.

“We honor a man whose songs have reached beyond our minds and into our hearts—whose lyrics and melodies have not only touched and uplifted the soul and spirit of this generation, but will do so for generations to come,” the degree proclamation states.

The degree will be conferred by University President Ralph Kuncl, who will welcome Sherman as honorary faculty to the University and offer a musical tribute of his own. 

The showcase event, A Spoonful of Sherman, includes a rare appearance by Sherman, who will have a “musical conversation” with the audience about his years working with Walt Disney and answer questions about what it was like to work with Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, who along with Sherman, was portrayed in the 2013 feature film "Saving Mr. Banks."

“Richard Sherman is one of America¹s most beloved and enduring composers—indeed one of the few who has a string of hits encompassing a 60-year career and is, at nearly 90 years old, at the zenith of his career,” said Marilyn Magness, Disney creative director and University of Redlands alumna who will host this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Richard Sherman and his brother Robert wrote songs together beginning in the 1960s and throughout their career. “I was a kid with big dreams.  I just always believed that Bob and I had it in us to write hit songs that would make people smile and feel happier than they did before they heard them,” Sherman said.

The brothers wrote more than 200 songs for 27 films and more than 20 television productions. Their music is also part of the Disney theme parks around the world, including “It’s a Small World,” which debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair and is still played at the parks today, translated into many different languages.

The duo won many awards, including two Oscars—for “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from "Mary Poppins" and for the film’s score—and three Grammy Awards. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and share a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2009, their life stories were told in the documentary film The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story. In 2012, Robert Sherman passed away at age 86.

The Sherman brothers are a permanent fixture in Disney history.  In 1990, they received the Disney Legends Award and in 2010 the Disneyland Resort in California honored the brothers with their own window on Main Street U.S.A.

Richard Sherman looks forward to his appearance at the University.

“It will be a lot of fun to spend some time with young people who have the same aspirations as I did when I first started out,” he said. “I hope that my story will encourage these kids to keep believing in their talent, keep doing what they¹re doing and continue to believe that they¹ll get a break.

“Lucky breaks have very little to do with luck after all. It’s determination, being able to think a little more creatively than the next guy, and being optimistic at the darkest times of your life.  Walt Disney was the perfect example of that.  He never gave up, so we couldn¹t either."

January 16, 2016, 7:30 p.m., Memorial Chapel. Ticketed event. General public $25 | Town & Gown members $20 | Students $10 | Available online or at the Event Services ticket window in Hunsaker Center at the University between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.